View Full Version : do I bottle?

07-27-2009, 10:44 PM
Ok, I need to know if it is time to bottle my Wildflower Vanilla Hydromel (see the Recipe Blog for ingred.). My air-lock is blubbing at a rate of one bubble every 18 seconds. Is it time to bottle? Please remember that I want my hydromel to be carbonated.

07-27-2009, 11:43 PM
Without taking a gravity reading I wouldnt try bottling this ever! Airlock blips are not an accurate indicator of where a fermenting must is at. You run a huge risk of over pressuring the bottles and making bottle bombs.

07-28-2009, 12:02 AM
So if I took a gravity tomorrow, what am I looking for so that I can bottle? I did not take an OG, but used 1-1/2 lbs wildflower honey to one gallon of water.
Can I use the Mead Calculator to help? How do I use that calculator?
Help please.

07-28-2009, 12:02 AM
Are you planning on priming before bottling or bottling prematurely and hoping it carbonates correctly?

07-28-2009, 12:07 AM
I planned on using any residual sugars (honey) to allow it to carbonate on its own. Bad?

07-28-2009, 12:41 AM
Well, it is a little risky. If you know exactly where the yeast will finish, this method works fine. The more uncertain you are, the more likely it is that your mead will either turn out undercarbonated or overcarbonated. Too much carbonation can lead to exploding bottles, which is undeniably bad.

One thing you could do if you want to go this route is to bottle some (one or two bottles worth) in a plastic bottle. When the plastic bottle gets hard from carbonation, put all the bottles in the fridge. Personally I would also wrap the bottles in a towel or something just in case the yeast doesn't quit fast enough.

A far more reliable method is to let the mead ferment to completion. Let it clear up a bit as well to reduce the amount of sediment in the bottles. Then you can rack and add a measured amount sugar before bottling (1 oz per gallon is a good ballpark number), ensuring proper and predictable bubbles. Since it is a low alcohol mead, the yeast should not have trouble refermenting the sugar in the bottle.

07-28-2009, 01:17 AM
How about I re-rack this and add some bentonite and let it ferment for a while longer? But how long?
In the future what should I do so that I know when to bottle?

Medsen Fey
07-28-2009, 09:25 AM
I looked at your recipe (http://http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=14608&highlight=wildflower+vanilla+hydromel) and akueck is correct that the EC-1118 will have not problem carbonating your mead. Your best bet is probably to let it finish fermenting, and then let it sit and clear.

I would not add Bentonite now. Bentonite is a clay fining agent that can be used if needed to clear a mead, but most meads will clear on their own if you give them time. Bentonite can strip color and flavor, so I use it only when it is absolutely required.

Even when your mead looks clear, there will still be millions of hungry little yeast cells justing waiting for more sugar to start carbonating, so you can rack your clear mead to a bottling bucket and add an amount of honey (or sugar) measure to give you the level of carbonation you want with less risk of bottle bombs. There is a good thread HERE (http://http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=10638) and there are more if you do a bit of searching.

07-28-2009, 11:53 AM
Medsen Fey,
thanks for your help. I have looked through the other forum posts. I think I will take a FG. Where does my FG need to be with a hydromel so that I can bottle it?

07-28-2009, 12:08 PM
Completely dry, 1.000, .999. Unless your carbonating with a c02 tank and corny keg, it's pretty much impossible to carbonate something sweet. No rush with bottling, you should age your hydromel in the jug for a month or two anyway. As for now just learn as much as you can about bottle carbing and the like!

07-28-2009, 12:37 PM
Ok, I took a hydrometer reading of my Wildflower Vanilla Hydromel. It read around 1000. The Mead Calculator said that my SG was around 1.054 at most.
I know now that I should, in the future, take an SG so that I know exactly, but one learns this way, eh?
Is it ok to bottle now? I know I need to be patient, but I would like to bottle it and let it sit for a little bit. I have an event to go to in three weeks and I would like to take it with me.
Let me know.

07-28-2009, 12:50 PM
You could bottle now, and drink in a few weeks but recognize it might still be a little harsh. And even aging together for three weeks in the jug will help. Bulk aging your meads provides consistency between bottles, so all the flavors meld together instead of bottling early which provides difference between bottles.

Medsen Fey
07-28-2009, 12:54 PM
I would wait a bit longer to make sure the gravity does not go lower. With this yeast you could see it drop a bit more. Also, is it clear? If you bottle a cloudy mead, you'll get a lot of sediment.

One thing you will find with mead is that it needs to follow its own time table.

07-28-2009, 03:30 PM
I agree, give it some more time. Waiting to bottle won't hurt anything, and I would guess it would actually help a lot. Sediment in the bottle is not so bad, but carbonation will stir it up as soon as the bottle is opened. Let the mead clear some now and you'll be much happier later. All you need to do to get it to clear is wait, no special additives needed.

07-29-2009, 12:36 AM
ok, I did not wait. I bottled it. I guess I need to learn, but it is clarifying like crazy and looking good.
The Hydromel is very dry. It tastes great. I cannot wait for it to carbonate and then get chilled.
I do know that next time I will decrease the lemon and not heat the honey much. There is no sign of the vanilla. I need to figure that out later.

07-29-2009, 12:45 AM
Well, good news is that you'll have something to drink while you wait for your other batches to finish. The best way to keep out of the "in progress" stuff is to have full bottles of previous batches ready and waiting to be consumed.

07-30-2009, 12:17 AM
The Wildflower Vanilla Hydromel is fining just splendidly. It looks good. I hope there were enough sugars left to carbonize the Hydromel. I am sooooo looking forward to a cool glass of this stuff for we have had some extreme temperatures here. Triple digits - hot for the NW.
My roommate says that it is tooooo dry. I do not agree, but there is tooooo much lemon. I like it though crisp and refreshing.

Medsen Fey
07-30-2009, 10:16 AM
Be very careful with glass bottles and high temperatures. That can create bottle bombs. How did you bottle it?

07-30-2009, 05:52 PM
Thanks for all of the support. I am using flip-top cap bottles. I bottled the hydromel hoping there are enough residual sugars to carbonate. The bottles are stored in the dark at around 70 degrees F.
I also did the same with my Maple Flower Hydromel. I am trying a technique from an SCA friend. I hope it works ok. In the future I will let the fermentation complete itself then use either honey or corn sugar to carbonate.
One large note about the two hydromels: I used too much lemon in them so they are a bit on the acidic side, will be pleasant chilled, but have lost much honey flavor and what a shame with the Mapleflower :(

When you guys mention bottle bombs, what do you mean? Do bottles actually explode?

07-30-2009, 09:45 PM
If there is enough sugar, yes the bottles will explode. Yeast don't have an off switch in terms of pressure (Medsen tried that idea in a steel keg), so they will keep on going even after the bottle blows. Standard beer bottles are usually ok to 50 psi, but even a small bubble or scratch could lower that to the 30 psi range (round about 3 volumes of CO2 at room temp, if I'm not mistaken), which is on the high end of normal beer carbonation levels. Big thick sparkling wine bottles are made to withstand over 100 psi.

Best thing for you to do is check a bottle for carbonation (maybe in a few days). If it is very carbonated, put all the bottles (very very carefully) into the fridge, which will reduce the pressure and hopefully stop the yeast. Meanwhile store the bottles someplace they won't hurt people if the do blow, like inside a plastic bin with a lid.

Medsen Fey
07-31-2009, 08:59 AM
Akueck is giving good advice. Yeast can generate enough pressure to explode even Champagne bottles in some situations. If there is more than 10 gravity points of sugar for them to ferment, look out!

If you batches have a lot of acidity, that may prevent them from over-fermenting under pressure, but do keep them stored in a way that if a bottle does fail (or the seal on the lid fails which is also distinctly possible) that it won't cause harm or make a huge mess.

One technique for doing what you are attempting (and not one I recommend) is to bottle at least one bottle in a PET plastic soda container with a screw on top. When it gets carbonated the pressure will cause the plastic bottle to become hard when you squeeze it. At that point, you know the other glass bottles are carbonated and you can quickly move them into the fridge to chill them down and prevent possible explosions. However, you must keep them chilled. If they warm back up again, look out!

I hope yours turn out well.